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December 4, 2020 - Herring Opposes Dangerous HHS Deregulation by the Trump Administration

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Commonwealth of Virginia Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street Richmond, Virginia 23219


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~ Herring joins coalition in opposing HHS rule that would put trillions of dollars in federal funding, programs, and services at risk for states and their residents, in the middle of a pandemic ~

RICHMOND Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of attorneys general today in opposing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) misguided proposal to automatically “sunset” any HHS regulation that the agency does not review within a short timeframe. The rule is an unprecedented and dangerous attempt by the Trump Administration to impede the incoming Biden Administration, while the country continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The rule impacts all 18,000 HHS regulations, putting in jeopardy the Department’s programs and services nationwide. Under the programs like Medicaid, food safety, and medical pharmaceutical research. The unlawful rule gives the agency just two years to review the regulations, unnecessarily hamstringing the incoming Biden Administration.


“The Trump Administration’s new rule would severely limit HHS’ ability to implement critical programs and services nationwide,” said Attorney General Herring. “Jeopardizing the important work that HHS does, in the middle of a deadly pandemic that continues to devastate every corner of the country, is just plain dangerous. I will do everything I can to stop the Trump Administration from putting trillions of dollars in federal funding for important programs and services at risk with this dangerous rule.”


In today’s letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that this deregulation attempt by the Trump Administration will mire HHS in red tape during a global pandemic when the country needs the agency’s resources most, making it nearly impossible for the new Biden Administration to enact new pandemic-related regulations. In addition, the drastic scope of the rule will put trillions of dollars in federal funding on which the states rely at risk.


Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue in their letter that the proposed rule:

  • Is unprecedented and dramatic in scope and poses a threat to the States’ healthcare systems and as a result, the health and safety of the states’ residents;
  • Is legally questionable since it claims to implement the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which Congress enacted to minimize the impact regulations have on small entities with limited resources. Instead, the rule would add expiration dates to all 18,000 HHS regulations. Further, HHS lacks the legal authority for such action;
  • Will drain agency resources and create significant uncertainty for state programs that would have to deal with the consequences if the federal regulations they rely on suddenly expired; and
  • Is deeply problematic given it was proposed just a month before a new president takes office and while the country continues to weather the pandemic, and gives the public only 30 days to comment, in spite of the fact that it impacts 18,000 regulations. 


Joining Attorney General Herring in sending today’s letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.


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